How one family’s DNA is helping others to thrive

With 150 years of family business history to draw on, EY partner Richard Boyce knows better than most what it takes to succeed.

It’s no exaggeration that Richard Boyce has family business pulsing through his veins.

As a fifth generation member of the extended Boyce family, which started out in the newspaper publishing business in regional New South Wales in the 1860s, and then branched out into law, engineering, accounting and a whole raft of other fields, he was literally born into family business.

After starting the Macleay Herald in 1864, the Boyce family went on to establish The Manning River Times newspaper 1899, and later sold their media interests to the Fairfax family.

Richard’s grandfather, Leslie Boyce, was an Australian soldier at Gallipoli during World War I, who returned from war to become a successful lawyer before moving to the United Kingdom to run his own practice. He achieved great success as a parliamentarian and philanthropist, and became the first Australian to hold the office of the Lord Mayor of London under King George VI and then Queen Elizabeth II.

Leslie later received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in recognition for his services and leadership to the British Commonwealth. He had three sons, two running law practices, while Richard’s father had an engineering practice.

Richard’s cousins Edward and Phillip Boyce carry on the law legacy to this day, running Boyce & Co Solicitors in the UK. And back in Australia, Richard’s cousin, Michael Boyce established one of Australia’s leading regional accounting businesses, Boyce Chartered Accountants. Richard was the next generation in the practice when he became a partner in 1998.

A chartered accountant and tax agent, and now completing a Masters of Financial Planning, Richard spent his early career with Arthur Andersen and AMP before joining the family’s accounting firm.

“I worked outside the family for seven years before I came back in … at a lesser wage than I earned in the commercial world,” Richard says. “I had to prove my position in the family business myself -- there was never a free ride.”

It’s in his DNA, Richard says, as he discusses his family business heritage and his recent appointment to EY as a partner and Oceania Head of Family Services, and to the firm’s Global Family Business Centre of Excellence. At the same time, Richard is a director of the Boyce Family Office, which he established to service high net wealth family groups with the aim of sustaining both human and financial capital for multiple generations.

“In my world the family office is the air traffic control tower where family members can go, travel the globe, start businesses, and always come back to that control tower, which is within a trusted, highly specialised entity.”

In supporting other family businesses, Richard says the challenge is to provide a leading team for families that can provide the extensive advice and support they really need to continue and to grow.

“My role, and what I’m passionate about, is actually hunting down the best board leaders in the world and connecting people to Australian and New Zealand families,” he says. “That’s my passion, and my passion comes from being part of a fifth generation family business.

“It’s really working with families who are globalising and that require that support, and often it’s with more sophisticated families who need guidance. Our role as a team is to protect and to grow these families that require that support.”

Richard says that in the wake of the global financial crisis, and the huge money printing programs launched by governments around the world to stimulate growth, the cash cycle is turning in favour of family businesses.

“That cash is now cycling through the corporates, and it’s going back to families,” he says. “We are truly seeing the richest generation of family-owned businesses, I believe.”

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